Russell Miller

Russell Miller

Russell Miller

Russell Miller is the front-of-house/monitor engineer for Red Gate Sound & contributes reviews and an occasional snarky op-ed here at UNDERGROUND PRESS. If the music has a strong melody, a drive, or ambition chances are that it’ll have my attention. Knowledge. Follow Russell on Twitter and InstagramCheck out his tunes at SoundCloud

 RED GATE SOUND: Our Facebook | Writer/Contributor: Underground Press | Engineer/Producer: Arkayem Productions

Wednesday, 10 July 2019 07:55

Review: Black Pistol - 'Sins of the Father'

It pays to turn off the brain and just live through the moment and take in the raw energy that is rock and roll. It doesn’t take much to sit back and let the intensity of a good headbanger take over and wash you away. Cape Town rockers BLACK PISTOL are leaning on that sentiment with their latest offering, Sins of the Father. Roan (guitarist) and Jacques (bassist) are veterans of the local music scene who’ve added on vocalist Stiaan Bruwer and drummer Daniel Louw to take the Band to the next level of intense 80s inspired rock and roll. Drawing heavy inspiration from classic elements of hard rock is often a risky proposition but these guys are determined to deliver the goods regardless.

You will not find many people who relentlessly complain about how polished and close to perfect any given artist sounds; no one fails to sell music for sounding too good. That said, bands earn rabid and loyal fan-bases with a relentless dedication to authenticity no matter how “packaged” they may sound or how raw and unpolished they may be.

With that said the question remains just how raw is “too raw”? BLACK PISTOL opens Sins of the Father with Nowhere to Run and with it asks, “how about this?” The track is tight, raw, nasty, opens with a drum pattern that sounds like it has been strangled half to death with the first compressor the band could find in Jo Ellis’s Blue Room Studios. Just like that the album signals just how down and dirty it’s willing to get.

Everything in each and every track is unabashedly in your face and throwing everything including the kitchen sink into the feel and aggression BLACK PISTOL revels in. Lead single and album closer Preacher exemplifies and embodies the “don’t give a damn” attitude BLACK PISTOL approaches. Aside from some lyrics about Jesus (that would surely make American TV personality Megyn Kelly angry), the track is a pure adrenaline rush. It is an angry and aggressive social commentary put to music in the only way that makes sense.

By far the crown jewels of this record are the vocals. Stiaan Bruwer brings a convincing performance on every track whether it is the snarl in Down the Hatch or the reserved contemplative crooning in Heaven and Hell, Stiaan proves he can change gears effortlessly and maintain energy when it is called for. All around the musicality is solid and is tailor-made for a good time at any concert or festival setting.

At times the lyrics may fall into the “too on-the-nose”, some tracks recycle riffs from others, the drums can feel like they’re too claustrophobic, but these are small blemishes on what is overall a decent listen. The album is due out on the 12th July 2019. You can pre-order the album here.

Follow BLACK PISTOL: Facebook | Instagram

 

Friday, 03 May 2019 11:59

Review: Fleche 'Do Not Return Fire'

What would be the perfect way to soundtrack a relaxing drive down the expressway with the sun in your face and the wind in your hair? If you said FLÈCHE, you would most definitely be right! These gentlemen are set to release their second full-length album ‘Do Not Return Fire’ and we got our hands on a copy.

The French indie rock quartet looks to emphasise the rougher aspects of their sound which contrasts their flashier and more atmospheric releases in the past. A six-month break between recording sessions presenting a cohesive collection of music as intense as these guys intended a daunting task but they have something going on here.

From start to finish, you know exactly where FLÈCHE is going and you’re there more or less fifty seconds into pretty much every track (‘Invincible’ actually wastes zero time getting to the point). Don’t let that dissuade you from taking the journey however; the album convincingly avoids being one-note and exhausting by providing varied paces and soundscapes to shake it up.

For instance, ‘Wait, Sit, Listen', and ‘Not a Single Thing’ introduce themselves with humble emotive lyrics over clean guitars that set the stage for the listener to be swept away by the contrast in density as the chorus blasts its way in. By contrast album opener ‘Gold and Black’ and ‘Pretend/Forget’ spend time in an bounce you would find in the catchiest 80s rock, then crash head first into that familiar flying chorus packed to the gills with distorted guitars and layered vocals a combination that doesn’t happen enough in the album to be frank.

FLÈCHE released four singles in the lead up to the release of ‘Do Not Return Fire’. Each of those singles features one thing in common and that is the bombastic high flying chorus section that will more than likely have you shouting along at the top of your lungs.

 Listen to 'Gold and Black' below!

After the release of his brand new single, 'Bad for Me', in June 2018 ROARS HUNTER has truly set out to define a new genre that is truly lacking in the industry. HUNTER is certainly turning heads with his new single, 'Bad for Me'ROARS, a newcomer to the scene has already released 3 videos and is not planning to stop anytime soon. With a debut EP due out in March/April 2019.

The Grammies came, saw, and conquered absolutely no one’s expectations with its usual “hand wringing” approach to the music industry changing beneath its feet, its inability to be culturally or generationally relevant and, despite Mrs. Keys’ best efforts, wasn’t very filling from an entertainment standpoint. Pop music’s Super Bowl of self-congratulatory pomp is one reason acts like Britain’s ROARS HUNTER earn currency with their unique approach and honest presentation as heard in their lead single, ‘Bad for Me’. The blandness of the Grammys may have left a less than desirable aftertaste in your mouth so maybe a palate cleanser is in order.

Hailing from London, ROARS HUNTER is a singer-songwriter who made his bones busking –competitively- and winning awards along the way. HUNTER is a genre-bending artist who does not shy away from brewing up a musical mixture of low fidelity drum grooves, gritty sawtooth synths, dark melodies and a haunting aesthetic. His journeys have taken him from being a finalist in London’s biggest busking competition to recording at the acclaimed Planck Music studios where he recorded all of his tracks.

The lead single ‘Bad for Me’ has an ambitious nostalgia about it that is sure to catch the ear of those who crave sounds that are off the beaten path. If this track is any indication, his future debut EP, and trajectory as a major player in the industrial/punk-electric music realm could be a force to be reckoned with.

Watch the 'Bad For Me' video below!


Follow Roars Hunter: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | SoundCloud | YouTube

Tuesday, 01 January 2019 06:39

Hidden Gems 2018

Currently, at the time this was written was still 2018, if you’ve already crossed over to 2019 (…or beyond); 1) Greetings from the past, 2) There’s some music that you left back here! By now everyone has published their “Top (X) of 2018” lists filled with everything you’ve already seen and/or heard but we do it a bit different around here. Yes, UNDERGROUND PRESS has remained vigilant and has scoured the “interwebs” for under-the-radar albums, and buried songs from 2018 and placed them right here in absolutely no order for all of you future dwellers…have a listen!

GEM: The tracks ‘Urban Wilderness’ & ‘Prelude For You’ from the album Bloom

South Africa’s EMERGER busted onto the scene with their debut ‘Bloom’ way back In May of 2018 and with it a music video for lead single Hindsight and awards for ‘Break & Fall’. Don’t let that distract you from digging a bit deeper into this little set of songs. ‘Urban Wilderness’ and ‘Prelude for You’ are two tracks that absolutely need your ears. The tracks feature some of the duo’s strongest melodies and overall songwriting. Listen below!

GEM: The Album ‘Chime’

American rapper DESSA’s album ‘Chime’ features some of the most indelible and substantive lyrics that will likely go vastly underappreciated. The Minneapolitan turn New Yorker tackles issues pertinent to not only an artist but female hip-hop artist who is fearless in her endeavours. ‘Fire Drills’ is one of the hardest hitting songs on the album but from top to bottom Chime is as wide as it is deep with a bounce here and there to keep even the most mundane hip-hop head hooked on her every syllable. Listen below!

GEM: The standalone single ‘Fiasco’

There is no doubt that hip-hop has been boosted by the many beefs and battles between rappers over the years. In fact, “beef” is to hip-hop as is apple pie is to America. Brooklyn rapper PATH P ditches that formula with this homage to one of his primary lyrical inspirations LUPE FIASCO. The track itself is a standalone single tied to a music video featuring sprawling vistas depicting the rapper's hometown, Brooklyn, New York. Sometimes all we need is a little love… ...you know? Watch below! - Video Produced by Arkayem

GEM: The song ‘Faithless’ from the Dirge EP

Perhaps 2018 wasn’t as loving and left you with a bitter aftertaste instead. Let DURGE provide you with that much needed cathartic cleansing as you embrace this New Year. The track ‘Faithless’ dials up all the right dark emotions that embody a previous year gone wrong and does it in spectacular fashion. DURGE leans on their heavy instrumentation a dark aesthetic all across Dirge, but this track that increases the emotive potency by a considerable factor. The desperation, depression, and crippling certainty of helplessness are on full display. Check out the track and the album for yourself below!

GEM: The track ‘Silk’ from the album Reminiscence

RIAAN NIEUWENHUIS has put in a lot of work throughout the years. Picture, in your mind the opening intro to a throwback crime show, or a montage of towering skyscrapers or sweeping shots of an inner city over a listen to ‘Silk’. The track is a nostalgic minimalistic trip-hop instrumental piece off of RIAAN’s most recent release that should age like a fine wine even as it already sports an “urban classic” feel to it. Listen here!

reminiscence album cover FINAL

GEM: The track ‘Luminace Forever’ from the album 'Leave the Bones'

Last but certainly not least, ring in this New Year with the nuclear warhead of a track that is ‘Luminace Forever’. WIRE LOVE delivers an absolutely massive sound on their latest release Leave the Bones, and this track brings it with gusto. The bass tone has a freakishly menacing fuzzy overdrive that probably shook Europe during the recording session but the rest of the band doesn’t wither in its wake. If you’re down for a screamo or post-hardcore revival in 2019, make sure to keep this track in your playlists. Listen Here

WIRE LOVE Leave the Bones Album Cover

As always stick with UNDERGROUND PRESS for new artists and new music from all genres and every corner of the earth, but especially South Africa’s immensely deep music scene!

Monday, 17 December 2018 08:54

Review: Emerger – 'Bloom'

Does pop music even pop bro? EMERGER provides their answer with the recently released 'Bloom', an ambitious serving of alt-pop draped with a hyper-modern aesthetic that is nothing short of dazzling. At eight tracks in length, 'Bloom' showcases the production and song-writing talents Emma de Goede (vocals/piano) and Gerrit Matthee (producer/multi-instrumentalist) honed while studying music at the University of Cape Town.

Uniformity and familiarity is the name of the game for this collection of tracks. Take, for instance, the album opener ‘Hindsight’ and the title track ‘Bloom’. The two tracks bookend the album-proper with the former being a shimmering upbeat number and the latter being a trip-hoppy soundscape. Bother have a similar feel with refrains that will induce an involuntary head bop or two, tight hummable melodic leads, and drum patterns with just the right amount of pep.

Listen to 'Bloom' below!

To buttress the memorable point, one would be remiss in not noting vocalist Emma de Geode’s contribution on that front. The vocals soar in lock-step with each songs crescendo and pull back with appropriate emotive finesse as evidence in the epic business of lead single ‘Break & Fall’ and the more intimate ‘Prelude for You’. Emma knows where she is going melodically as her melodies dance atop perfectly complementary chord progressions.

On the first listen, Bloom may seem too cold and rigid for those who are predisposed to approach “pop music” with skepticism. That said there is enough here to loosen a few obstinate music tastes. Each track is connected sonically and does well to glue the group together for an easy listening from start to finish. It is safe to say that the EMERGER crafted each song with an incredible attention to detail with a simultaneous gentle hand as to not sacrifice musicality.

'Bloom' is available now at iTunes and all major streaming services.


 Follow Emerger: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | SoundCloud | YouTube


 

Friday, 14 December 2018 09:26

REVIEW: Wire Love – 'Leave the Bones'

If the human condition and the certainty of uncertainty that accompanied it were a motion picture, WIRE LOVE’s latest effort 'Leave the Bones' would be the soundtrack. Hardcore-rock music often falters when it comes to blending musicality and intensity and presenting a cohesive (and more importantly edifying) listening experience. It often results in a seasonless soup of distorted bedlam, aimless screams with no real definition and start-stop patterns almost entirely void of anything resembling groove. This is not that, and Germany's hardcore scene would do good to exalt what this group has on offer.

From a production standpoint, Leave the Bones has a lot of meat on its bones. The guitars and bass lock in tight together with a less-is-more approach to distortion and overdrive that provides clear definition without sacrificing weight; in other words, WIRE LOVE is heavy…really heavy.

The album opens with a delayed punch in the face with ‘Symmetry’ and ‘Red Dress’, the latter of which opens with an eerily beautiful preamble that is way too short because continuing with a brutal onslaught of a groove that should maintain the energy of any mosh-pit. From then on the barrage is maintained at a clip that is as unforgiving as it is dynamic.

What truly makes this collection of tracks is its ability to maintain its intensity even when it drops its density. ‘Shadow’, for instance, sports an entire passage in a melancholic haze bookended by relentlessly heavy grooves with screaming lead lines everywhere. The succeeding ‘Luminace Forever’ then turns them up to eleven with a vengeful ferocity and there is no turning back from there.

Take the infectious grooves of GLASSJAW, the relentless energy of early ATREYU, with a splash of BOTCH and you will get WIRE LOVE. If this album is any indication, Germany’s post-hardcore scene is in for a revitalisation that only comes around once in a blue moon…watch out for these guys.

WIRE LOVE Leave the Bones Album Cover

You can order your copy from iTunes today.


 

Tuesday, 30 October 2018 07:13

Review: Glory Fades – 'Everything Is Lost'

Angst, anger, scorn, longing; emotions that were a mainstay of an early to mid-2000’s (as well as its revival a decade later) movement that brought forth acts such as BRAND NEW, TAKING BACK SUNDAY, WEEZER and the like. While the subject matter isn’t a one-to-one ratio, the energy and sentiment are with ‘Everything is Lost’, the latest offering from alt-rockers GLORY FADES. The wave of nostalgic resuscitation that has reinvigorated mainstream appeal in many genres has not spared what has at times been affectionately termed “emo” or “pop-rock”. GLORY FADES has been at this since their debut with ‘Late in the Day’ back in 2017 and look to continue their journey into the heart of every millennial longing for a return to the days of yore.

Hailing from Wolverhampton, England the five-piece has a remarkably noticeable American emo hard-core aesthetic on the surface. Each song features riffs that work, drums that provide enough “oomph” and “pizzazz” to keep things interesting, and vocals that do well to bring everything together. Underneath the hood, the band touches on the cliché emo subject such as heartbreak and all things bleak for much of the album.

That said, there are some highlights on this record that warrant giving the band a few, repeat listens. ‘Growing Apart’ which features guest vocalist Amy Wyatt is a step away from what the album serves up with its very power chorus and silky chorused clean guitar licks. The high-energy ‘Angels with Filthy Souls’ not only features some of the strongest vocal melodies but also a rather strong commentary relating a certain world superpower and its “leader” whom shall remain nameless.

There is not much in this record that hasn’t been done before, but it is executed well enough to be infectious and surprisingly “earworm” worthy. One thing is for sure, the energy much of these songs contain is tailor-made for the gig experience. There is no way that the entire not be found mouthing the entirety to ‘18 Years’ and that is all GLORY FADES needs for this album to be worth a listen.

glory fades everything is lost


Monday, 15 October 2018 08:36

Review: Medicine Boy - 'Lower'

Music as an art form is removed from the limitations of perceived reality with regard to the aural experience of what is beyond the “real world”. In the case of MEDICINE BOY’S latest offering, 'Lower', the dream noise duo acknowledges this with a collection of songs that explore and reflect what is beyond and beneath what we believe to be our known universe. This album marks the duo’s Fuzz Club Records debut (though the second release overall) and seeks to stay true to their patented sound bouncing between a dreamlike distortion and a bed of spacious reverb and echoes dancing about.

Listen to 'Lower' While you read on!

‘Lower’ does not rush at you with a big opening number, nor does MEDICINE BOY seek to overwhelm you with a barrage of high octane appetizers. Instead, opener “Bottom of the Blue” seduces with LUCY KRUGER guiding our initial descent into MEDICINE BOY’S depiction of the underworld. With a third of the song left ANDRE LEO’S menacing crooning seeps in just underneath the surface effectively setting the stage for the drift into the co-lead single “Water Girl”. There is a push-pull feel that is woven into the passage of one song to the next that feels purposely aimless yet feeds the fluidity of the listening experience.

Across the album both Kruger and Leo trade responsibilities as the vocal anchor for whatever amount of Bedlam or tranquillity transpiring beneath their respective dynamic performances. What stands out with MEDICINE BOY, and the album as a whole is the duo’s ability to convey what they need to convey as one cohesive unit as opposed to two vocalists singing together. Both Kruger and Leo possess ample ability to carry passages of songs on their own, but it is when the two come together where the magic is strikingly apparent. One prime example of this is “Diamonds” a song that also features an abrupt change of pace that feels disturbingly normal.

It should be noted for the record that the artistry on this record is remarkable. Whether it is the elegance of poetry in “Lovely Heart” or the abrupt intimacy of the last line in “One Hundred Bodies”, it is evident that from top to bottom this album is a testament to MEDICINE BOY’S artistry and musicality. The Fuzz Club Records roster boasts a robust collection of artists that dabble in the experimental side of rock music. MEDICINE BOY could well prove to be a flagship stable with their arrival to the UK-based label as ‘Lower’ is an experience to behold.

medicine boy lower cover

Endless Daze 2018 has just announced their final line up and MEDICINE BOY is one of their featured acts. Check out the mastery of ‘Lower’ live!


Two years removed from his last effort 'Collaborator', RIAAN NIEUWENHUIS offers 'REMINISCENCE', a collection of previously unreleased material. NIEUWENHUIS is a veteran of South Africa’s music scene and is a veteran of the music community who possesses a girth of talent with a seemingly limitless capacity for composing music. DELTA BLUE, THE VIOLENT FREE PEACE, AMAFIST, are just a few of the many projects that this virtuoso has been connected to. That said it stands to reason that NIEUWENHUIS would be in possession of some pieces that have escaped the opportunity to be heard by the public…until today.

reminiscence album cover FINAL

'Reminiscence' is effectively a musical experience that is comprised of three acts and an epilogue. Each section when taken in together provides a summation of the musical diversity NIEUWENHUIS exemplifies and has become synonymous with.

Act I opens the album with a lo-fi aesthetic that incorporates a trip-hop vibe with each of the first three tracks contributing a unique flavour. ‘Silk’ is the first track on the list that is energetically ambient and bounces with an infectiously crisp “boom-bap” rhythm that dressed to the nines in a slick urban couture. ‘Cruising’ follows with a darker tone that moves into the first act’s closure in ‘The Point’.

Act II sheds much of the trip-hop aesthetic but maintains the ambience, space and musicality. ‘Summertime Afternoon’ and ’22-6’ present two stark contrasts in sound with the former a lush desert rock downtempo number and the latter bearing a more abstract veneer. ‘First Out’ closes the middle act in exotic fashion with a delectable Eastern influenced acoustic flourish that flows into a rock trot with ease.

Act III maintains the ambience but adds an edge that is unforgiving but musically edifying. The act opening of ‘Paracaida’ is menacingly beautiful, brooding, but open and spacious. Lead single ‘The Black One’ adds an angst that spices the album up and fits perfectly before the act closing ‘Indurate’ which could have easily been a cut from 'Collaborator'.

Closing the album is a bluesy solo piano number by the name of ‘Namib Blues 2’ a direct nod to an earlier piece that would be familiar to fans and followers of RIAAN NIEUWENHUIS.

NIEUWHENHUIS has an artistic vision that’s woven into the very fabric of his works and influences every facet of this record in particular. Obviously these songs would have placed themselves amongst prior releases from NIEUWHENHUIS but one of the defining and endearing aspects of compiling them here is the experience of placing these tracks within the timeline of prior releases. 'Reminiscence' is a testament to a mind rapt with appreciation and love for the art of music and will be an immediate classic and favourite for those who share this conviction and even for those who don’t.

Please join the Facebook Event where we'll be announcing the album launch today!


 

Basson Laubscher The Violent Free Peace Testify

The blues-rock revival is in full effect with 'Testify', the latest effort from BASSON LAUBSCHER & THE VIOLENT FREE PEACE. Typically, modern music increasingly relies on the formulaic and repeatable approach. It is not uncommon to hear a track littered with synthetic sounds that are meant to mimic their real world counterparts. With LAUBSCHER and company the MIDI-triggered sampled drum kit, the in-the-box guitar tone, etc. are all M.I.A with this collection of tunes. In their place are tones that have travelled from the fingertips (and throat) of four experienced musicians, through a recording console to preserve and right into your ears for as true an organic listen as possible.

Title track ‘Testify’ opens up with a plunging musical baptism with its chorus of horns, guitars, and sermonic delivery of LAUBSCHER’s vocal performance. As fierce and as bombastic the opener is the following ‘Lost’ purifies the ear with a peaceful acoustic offering. The relationship between these two tracks is emblematic of the tonal balance of Testify. Whether the objective is to overwhelm with the sheer might LAUBSCHER and company are capable of or draw in close with intimacy the album maintains its equilibrium. That is to say, no matter the peak or valley the album feels even from track to track.

Watch 'Testify' in the media box Below!

That said 'Testify' is a testament –pun intended- to the organic rock music production. Due to the authenticity of the albums recording, the listener is in the room, on the other side of the campfire, front-row in the arena, whatever the setting, the listening experience just puts you…there. Each track wraps itself around the listener in an embrace of lush tones. From the fluffy but rugged overdriven rhythm guitars, smooth chorale organ and pads, to the simplicity of the knock of the kick drum against its room ambience; Testify is a beautiful listening experience. ‘Make It Right’ proves as much when moving from its riffy passages to an open atmospheric instrumental break.

basson loubscher

All said, this is an album that doesn’t get lost in itself. The strength and lasting quality of this record is that Testify does not seek to blow you away with all that a modern record could blow you away with. LAUBSCHER & THE VIOLENT FREE PEACE paid unique attention to preserving the authenticity of the blues rock performance. The lack of over the top embellishments is the feature in a world that treats it as a bug and that is what Testify leans on in a macro sense. The resulting experience is what LAUBSCHER and company intended it to be; a bombastic listen that stays true to its nature with a few twists and turns to keep your attention. For fans of the golden age of classic rock, blues and the like, there is more than enough meat on bone here.

Get the album on iTunes today!

The blues-rock revival is in full effect with Testify, the latest effort from BASSON LAUBSCHER & THE VIOLENT FREE PEACE. Typically, modern music increasingly relies on the formulaic and repeatable approach. It is not uncommon to hear a track littered with synthetic sounds that are meant to mimic their real world counterparts. With LAUBSCHER and company the MIDI-triggered sampled drum kit, the in-the-box guitar tone, etc. are all M.I.A with this collection of tunes. In their place are tones that have travelled from the fingertips (and throat) of four experienced musicians, through a recording console to preserve and right into your ears for as true an organic listen as possible.

Title track ‘Testify’ opens up with a plunging musical baptism with its chorus of horns, guitars, and sermonic delivery of LAUBSCHER’s vocal performance. As fierce and as bombastic the opener is the following ‘Lost’ purifies the ear with a peaceful acoustic offering. The relationship between these two tracks is emblematic of the tonal balance of Testify. Whether the objective is to overwhelm with the sheer might LAUBSCHER and company are capable of or draw in close with intimacy the album maintains its equilibrium. That is to say, no matter the peak or valley the album feels even from track to track.

That said Testify is a testament –pun intended- to the organic rock music production. Due to the authenticity of the albums recording, the listener is in the room, on the other side of the campfire, front-row in the arena, whatever the setting, the listening experience just puts you…there. Each track wraps itself around the listener in an embrace of lush tones. From the fluffy but rugged overdriven rhythm guitars, smooth chorale organ and pads, to the simplicity of the knock of the kick drum against its room ambience; Testify is a beautiful listening experience. ‘Make It Right’ proves as much when moving from its riffy passages to an open atmospheric instrumental break.

All said, this is an album that doesn’t get lost in itself. The strength and lasting quality of this record is that Testify does not seek to blow you away with all that a modern record could blow you away with. LAUBSCHER & THE VIOLENT FREE PEACE paid unique attention to preserving the authenticity of the blues rock performance. The lack of over the top embellishments is the feature in a world that treats it as a bug and that is what Testify leans on in a macro sense. The resulting experience is what LAUBSCHER and company intended it to be; a bombastic listen that stays true to its nature with a few twists and turns to keep your attention. For fans of the golden age of classic rock, blues and the like, there is more than enough meat on bone here.

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